Battle of the bots ups the spam count

Shortened URLs remain key to junk email barrage

Shortened URLs remain a key strategy of spammers, prompting an overhaul of shortened URL services on the Internet.

Cligs, one of the most popular URL shortening services used on Twitter, recently upgraded its spam and malware checks following issues with spam. The new system uses public lists to check each newly-created URL to ensure the IP address of the requester or the desination URL has not been black-listed.

"Shortened URLs are being seen continuously in spam," said MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Paul Wood. "And at the same time, shortened URL sites are being forced out of business as they get abused to death by spammers. Even sites that are known for using short URLs are taking measures to phase them out or prevent users from posting malicious links genreated from these sites."

Three spam botnets – Donbot, Cutwail and Mega-D – are causing most of the havoc, sending up to 21 billion spam messages each day, according to MessageLabs Intelligence, and accounting for 15-20 per cent of all spam globally.

Cutwail was curtailed for a brief time over August 1-2, when Latvian ISP Real Host was taken offline but was restored to previous levels overnight. However, Donbot continues to cause headaches. It accounted for three additional spam runs, one of which is estimated to have made up as much as 9.25 percent of all spam on July 28.

Email spam subjects show that Donbot is focused on pharmacy spam for discount medication.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags spamantispambotnetssecurity

More about MessageLabs

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Computerworld Staff

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts